Time to celebrate a century of clock-making

Updated: 2015-07-14 08:04

(China Daily)

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A special free exhibition, tracing the century-long history based on permanent collections of the Polaris Horologe Culture Museum, was also held through last weekend in Yantai. It took visitors back in time from the earliest Chinese production mimicking Western antique clocks to recent specimens with multiple functions.

"A good-looking clock on the wall was usually a symbol of a wealthy family when I was a child," recalls Xu Jian, a Yantai citizen in his early 50s. "If a man had such a clock in his house, his chances of attracting a girl for marriage would even be higher."

Nevertheless, Zhang Hongguang, an expert with the China Horologe Association, says people today have more tools for timekeeping, and that creates challenges for clock makers.

"Chinese clocks are now often stereotypically thought of as low-quality and cheap," he says, despite the success of the country's high-end clock-making.

For example, a recent Polaris art clock with an enamel facade was auctioned at a price of 100,000 yuan ($16,000) in June.

"Our products have gradually won recognition from the overseas market as well."

According to statistics of the China Horologe Association, China manufactured 540 million clocks in 2014, comprising nearly 90 percent of the world's total. About 80 percent of those Chinese products are exported.

In January, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released guidelines to establish globally recognized watch and clock brands. China plans to make five of its brands globally influential by 2020.

"Clocks are not only about daily life or art design. They reflect some less exposed but crucial parts of a country's industrial foundation, from synchronized timing systems used in aerospace to high-speed trains," Zhang adds. "They deserve more attention."

If you go

Polaris Horologe Culture Museum, 21 Guangren Road, Zhifu district, Yantai, Shandong province. Admission price: 30 yuan. 0535-6611-259.

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